The Leroy Finkel Fellowship is what I like to call a launchpad. For me, it was an opportunity to have a platform to share my ideas. Being selected as a finalist for the 2017 Leroy Finkel Fellowship was a huge confidence-builder. It made me believe my ideas were big, innovative, and worth sharing with educators. It definitely set my “tech coaching” journey on a whole new trajectory.

My Leroy Finkel journey began during a nondescript conversation with former Leroy Finkel finalist Katherine Goyette. She suggested that the work with my students was definitely a big idea worthy of Leroy Finkel notoriety. I submitted my application and, lo and behold, I was selected as a finalist.

Leroy Finkel Fellowships 2017

Leroy Finkel Fellowships Finals 2017

At the time, I was very new to the whole “EdTech scene.” I had presented a handful of times but was unsure of how special or innovative my ideas were. Seeing the other finalists, their ideas, and the illustrious list of past winners really boosted my confidence. Preparing for the final presentation was a great learning experience.

My idea, the Cardinal Innovation Center, is a very big idea. Presenting it in five minutes to a large crowd and panel of judges was a challenge. I have been known to be a little long-winded. It forced me to adapt my presentation skills to be more concise and articulate.

Although my good friend and colleague Kim Calderon took home the grand prize, I felt empowered to take my ideas and teaching to a whole new level. The $500 finalist prize gave some life to the Cardinal Innovation Center. The money allowed me to purchase some needed materials to make it a reality. In addition, the status of being a finalist, along with the money, gave me some much needed clout with my administration. Their support has been instrumental in making the Cardinal Innovation Center a reality.

championship belt

The Leroy Finkel Fellowship is much like the WWE Intercontinental Championship. For those unfamiliar, the Intercontinental Championship is usually held by “superstars” who are considered to be up-and-comers who have potential to be future WWE Champions. It is a platform for those stars to show they have what it takes to be a champion.Though not as prestigious as the WWE Championship, it exposes them to the pressure and rigor of being a champion.  All-time greats such as Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were all Intercontinental Champions before ascending to breathtaking heights as WWE Champion.

When all the Leroy Finkel Fellowship smoke had cleared, I was primed to push myself to become better. A month later, I became a Google Certified Trainer. During the summer, I presented in the EdTech Coaches Playground at ISTE. After ISTE, my Cardinal Innovation Center idea helped me earn acceptance as a Google Certified Innovator at the Sydney 2017 cohort.

Google Innovation Academy

Google Innovation Academy, Sydney

Long story short, the Leroy Finkel Fellowship was my Intercontinental Championship experience. It launched my practice to a whole new level. For anyone needing an “EDU-Shot-in-the-Arm”, I highly recommend taking the plunge and submitting an idea for the Leroy Finkel Fellowship. You will not regret it.

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